When living off the grid, bushcrafting for example, means learning how to stock pile food stores. But it is about more than just collecting that food, it is about making sure it is still available long after the growing season has passed. Lets us share some tips for storing fruits and vegetables when refrigeration is a luxury you do not have.
It is easy to feed yourself when the grass is green, and the fields or trees are flush with berries, fruit or vegetables. But what will you do when temperatures drop, crops have withered, and fresh food is a thing of the past? You could try surviving on fresh meat or fish, chances are it is still plentiful. However, it will be a long winter if you attempt to live as a carnivore alone. The key is to learn how to make those crops you picked and gathered when things were good, so they are still available months later.
Food storage has been a problem since the beginning of time, and that is where you will learn what you need to know today. Early settlers had three basic means of storing fruits, vegetables and berries – cold storage, drying and later canning. As it is unlikely you will have the provisions needed for canning we will stick with the first two.
Drying or dehydrating food is one of the earliest known means of preserving food, including fruits & vegetables. While modern green thumbs utilize electric dehydrators you can still do it effectively with either the sun or an alternate heat source such as your wood stove.
- Cut food into ¼ inch slices, lay on clean tray and cover with cheesecloth or similar porous material.
- If sunny and warn enough place tray outdoors on flat surface
- If drying indoors place near a heat source, but not directly on or in it. Elevated shelfs work well
- Check every 4-6 hours. You will know it is done when vegetables snap or fruit is rubber like with not moisture present
You may think cold storage is not an option with out modern refrigeration, but you would be wrong. All you need is natural cold storage in the form of a fruit pit or cellar. Fruit pits are nothing more than a hole in the ground into which food can be stored and preserved by the Earth’s natural temperature.
- Dig hole at least 3 feet deep, 3 feet wide and as long as needed for the amount of food you have available
- Stake fruits and vegetables in loose fitting piles or pyramids
- Cover pit with hay, straw or grass and top with enough dirt to hold everything in place. For added protection against animals you can then cover dirt with logs
- When you need some food dig it up, let it thaw and enjoy
For more tips on food storage when bushcrafting check out this YouTube video.